Do you ever find the idea of self care confusing? Is it long massages? Meditation? A Treat Yo Self day a la Parks and Rec? As a mom and business owner, I honestly don't have a lot of time for any of that. And then I feel guilty because apparently self care is what will make me a better mom and business owner. So generally, I ignore the whole idea of self care. But a few weeks ago, at one of our free repotting classes, one my frequent customers introduced herself at the beginning of the class and said that coming to our classes was part of her self care. And it really hit me, self care should be exactly what you want it to be. That may mean long massages and meditation and shopping sprees. But it may also mean repotting your plants, or propagating them. Or actually taking time to cook dinner rather than going out. Or reading aloud to your toddler. Or rereading the Harry Potter series to yourself for the 5th time... Which I may or may not be doing because Harry Potter is amazing.
So, in an effort to help myself and all of you figure out what self care means in your life, this month at Piep, we’re focused on how caring for plants can be a form of self care. I've put together tips on our monthly calendar of activities for ways you can enjoy your plant care and the people in your life, plenty of fun free classes as always, and a special gift for you all: a gorgeous free print designed by Geoff Gouveia available here.
We also asked Amanda Cordaro of Save Serenity to share some of her journey into plant care and the benefits that come from it! She's a mother, a yogi, and a blogger who loves houseplants maybe even more than we do. My favorite observation she makes in this post is that "while [she does] still enjoy meditation, gardening seems to be an effortless form of meditation for [her]." Which, if you've ever struggled with meditation like me, is music to your ears!
Happy Plant and Self Caring!!
xx - Mackenna
Indoor Gardening seems to be blossoming on social media these past couple of years and there's plenty of good reasons why. As people are more involved in democratic choices and more invested in the outcomes, scientists are not surprised that hobbies like indoor gardening are becoming a huge focus of our social and personal lives. The benefits of caring for plants can improve your health and wellness and help you cope with different types of stress.
It all started with one plant for me. I was unhappy with the state of my childrens' and my health and wanted something to make sure we were breathing fresh air. I stumbled upon a massive snake plant on clearance at a home improvement store and put it in the bedroom. Quickly I realized this would not help the other rooms and I grabbed more plants for each room of the house.
Somewhere along the way, I started to play in the dirt and explore the roots while repotting. I took more time to play with and care for these plants rather than think of them as a task or chore. I no longer could resist touching the leaves as I passed from room to room to get everything done. I began painting clay pots with my kids, getting messy and creative and not worry about the next item on my to-do list. Sometimes when I'm struggling with the winter blues, I find comfort sitting in the grow lights and humidity surrounded by so many tropical plants.
While I'm still early in my indoor gardening journey, it is abundantly clear to everyone around me how much joy and wellbeing these little living creatures have brought into my home. My anxiety has calmed and while I do still enjoy meditation, gardening seems to be an effortless form of meditation for me. My thoughts slow, I focus on my happiness, I breathe calmly and my body releases tense muscles. Along with that, asthma symptoms have improved in all of us, as well as shortened sick periods and less bronchitis.
I know what you're thinking. How could having a few plants inside do all that? Lucky for us, science can explain it all.
Plants can be your therapy
Horticultural therapy (yes, it's a real thing!) has been documented since the 19th century by early American Psychiatrists. It is the practice that caring for a plant will bring mutual pleasure and a sense of empowerment to the caretaker. Watching something you care for grow and thrive due to your own effort is absolutely rewarding for mental health and confidence.
Cultivating a home routine such as indoor gardening can also become a meditative practice. Honing focus on the simple acts and allowing other thoughts to pass rather than giving them attention and time strengthens our attention and coping skills.
“Caring for your garden can be a great form of mindfulness meditation. By connecting with the earth and with the practice of gardening, you can cultivate a healthy mind and feel calm and connected. Simply planting a seed with intention, or touching soil, can be transformative. Go ahead and get a little dirty.” — Suze Yalof Schwartz, founder of Unplug Meditation and author of “Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers.”
Plants create a healthy environment
Most people are aware that houseplants cycle out carbon dioxide and release oxygen, some even filtering out heavy metals and toxins detrimental to physical health. This added to the pure water they release into the air through transpiration can increase your health and healing from viruses all the way through surgeries (check out this study).
Plants release natural chemical medicines into the air called phytoncides. These phytoncides are emitted by plants as a defense against diseases, and can be effective at boosting human immunity and protecting us from harmful germs. They’re also responsible for the pleasant aromas of essential oils, and for the healing qualities of aromatherapy.
Plants are good for your mental health
According to other studies, plants do more than just purify the air in your home and better your physical health. Just being in close proximity with a houseplant may lower your stress hormones and improve your physical and mental health (these are similar results to having pets in the home). They increase happiness and lower stress and anxiety.
Low indoor air quality is highly linked to depression and anxiety (as this study reports). As our bodies need to work harder to filter out the toxins in our body from the air (and food and products we use) our immune systems have to work harder, kicking on our stress hormones and alert systems. This is where the link between having plants for better air quality and improved health and wellbeing comes in.
More research has shown that soil contains microbes called M. vaccae, or “outdoorphins”, which are known to boost moods and reduce stress levels. Being outside isn't always an option but bringing nature inside is. The release of these happy hormones can help battle Seasonal Affective Disorder, which occurs during seasons where we may be stuck indoors more due to weather conditions and have short sunlight hours and a lot of grey days.
With all these amazing reasons to keep plants in your home, what other excuse do you need to head out and go plant shopping? Grab a plant (or two) and watch the health and wellbeing of everyone in your home improve! Happy gardening!